Types of Antidepressants

Antidepressants are often glossed over in drug reference books and websites because they are typically thought of as substances that can't be abused. They aren't addictive, so it's just not possible to abuse them. Or, so goes the common way of thinking. But this is just not true. Prescription drug abuse has escalated to the highest levels ever in recent years. Before we get into the effects of antidepressants on the body, let's first define what they are.

What Are Antidepressants?

The term "antidepressant" actually covers three different types of drugs. They include: MAO Inhibitors (Parnate and Nardil), Tricyclics (Pamelor and Elavil) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs (Paxil and the ever popular Prozac). All three of these types of drugs are prescribed everyday by doctors and can be used in perfectly appropriate ways.

For pill identification, review our gallery of antidepressant pictures which contains a list of antidepressants which we have collected photographs of.

Why Are Antidepressant Drugs Prescribed?

As you can guess by their name, antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression. However, they are used to treat other mood disorders as well such as dysthymia, which is a type of low-grade bipolar disorder.

How Does Antidepressant Medication Affect the Body?

When prescribed, antidepressants are expected to affect the body in a certain way. For instance, SSRIs work by making the brain maintain higher levels of serotonin, which provides an overall good feeling. Tricyclics, on the other hand, are a bit broader in their effects, by increasing the amount of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain. Lastly, MAOIs, though rarely prescribed nowadays, work by blocking monoamine oxidase so more noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin are left in the brain.

The whole idea behind antidepressants is to improve one's mood and to allow them to live a fuller, happier life. But these drugs carry with them the potential for serious side effects. For instance, MAOIs have been known to cause death when mixed with foods that contain Tyramine. Meanwhile, Tricyclics can cause uncomfortable problems like constipation, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness and potentially dangerous ones like increased heart rate, confusion, arrhythmia and toxicity. Finally, SSRIs are probably the safest of the antidepressants out there, but even they aren't side effect-free. The list of problems they can cause includes such ailments as anxiety, insomnia, decreased libido, fatigue and more.

What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?

When abused, antidepressants can produce long-term side effects in users. Sadly, antidepressants can be abused in some cases without the user even realizing it. It all depends on your body, your tolerance for the medications and your reactions to them. You see, when you are prescribed antidepressants, your dosages are monitored very closely for how the drugs interact with your body. However, if you use them without a prescription, you are likely to cause serious problems included emotional disturbances and physical symptoms. Likewise, suddenly stopping antidepressants can cause withdrawal effects like anxiety, headaches and even hallucinations.

Why is Abusing Antidepressants Dangerous?

Antidepressant abuse is harmful in the long-term because it changes how your brain functions. This, in turn, changes how you feel, and when abused, can pose dire consequences for your emotional health. Even though initial use of antidepressants in a recreational way can be pleasant, their effects can change so dramatically that in some people they can invoke a desire to commit suicide. These are not drugs that can be abused harmlessly, especially when they haven't been prescribed to you.

Ready to Quit Using Antidepressants?

Quitting antidepressants is not easy, but should you decide it is the right decision for your health and future, there are ways to come down off the drugs without experiencing withdrawal. By seeking out a drug rehab program, you can ensure your antidepressant abuse is dealt with from every angle-from its physical effects to the psychological reasons behind the abuse. Once you beat your addiction, it is vital to remain in an ongoing recovery program to ensure you stay on target toward a healthy and drug-free lifestyle.

When you get right down to it, antidepressants are very helpful medications for those with emotional problems. However, these drugs are very easy to abuse and it's possible to even unwittingly take them in the wrong manner. The important thing to know is that there is help out there for antidepressant abuse and even if you feel fine, it might be a good idea to talk to someone about your use of this type of drug.

Talk to others about their experiences in our antidepressants forum.